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Flawed China stamp may sell for US$283,000

Flawed China stamp may sell for US$283,000

On Nov. 25, 1968, as the Cultural Revolution raged in China, the government issued a stamp called "Whole Country Is Red," with a scarlet map of the country. Within half a day of its release, post offices were told to pull it.
That's after an editor at the China Atlas Press had complained that Xisha and Nansha, islands in the South China Sea known as the Paracel and Spratly, were omitted on the map, said Jeffrey Schneider, a British Philatelic Association member whose company is organizing a Jan. 31 auction of Hong Kong stamps.
There was another problem: Taiwan was colored white.
The island was the bastion of Kuomintang troops that were defeated by their Communist rivals on the mainland in 1949. Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek had seized control of Taiwan and claimed to be the legitimate government even of the mainland. Today, China still considers Taiwan a breakaway province that must be recaptured, even if by force.
"There's so much history and political meaning in these stamps," said Schneider, of Interasia Auctions Ltd. Chinese stamp collectors are bigger history buffs than their counterparts elsewhere, he said.
China's first stamp was issued in Shanghai in 1878 while the port city was controlled by foreign colonizers following the Opium War. Before that, payment for delivery of letters and parcels was handed to a courier. In 1897, a national postal system was set up by the ruling Qing Dynasty. The UK produced the world's first postage stamp - the Penny Black -in 1840.
Some of "Whole Country Is Red" had been sold before the pull order came. At the Hong Kong sale, a pair, 30 millimeters- by-40-millimeters with a face value of 8 cents each, may fetch HK$2.2 million (US$283,000), said Interasia. The lot is among 1,800 items at the biggest public sale of Chinese stamps that's expected to fetch more than HK$45 million.
Among the most-expensive stamps at the auction will be those that were unissued, yanked, or flawed at production. That's because they're rare, said Schneider in an interview. One such rarity is an unissued 1967 stamp, dubbed "Big Blue Sky," which marked the 40th anniversary of Mao Zedong's decision to join forces with his erstwhile rival Zhu De at the southeastern city of Nanchang, an alliance that led to the Communists' eventual victory.
The stamp on offer is missing the half that features Mao. Yet it may fetch HK$800,000 at the auction because it's considered in collecting circles as the most representative of the decade-long Cultural Revolution, according to Interasia.


Updated : 2021-04-22 11:04 GMT+08:00